Sermon: “Promises, Promises!”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from March 13, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Today’s sermon title probably had a few people, well, depending upon age group responding differently. When Laurie first saw it, she says, oh, we're talking about the musical. And I'm thinking more back to a song. You know, promises, promises. Was that from the musical? Okay. I never heard of it as a musical.
Anyway, promises promises. It's something we all make promises. And my guess is a number of us have heard promises that well, let's put it this way, we knew there were empty. You know it's that season it'll start and go from now until November. We'll hear a lot of promises that we know aren't going to get carried out.
It happens any time somebody is running for office. It seems though they make all kinds of promises and people vote for them based on those promises. And we should know better because I don't care which politician, which party, or anything else. Very rarely do those campaign promises actually get carried through. And it's just the nature of our political system. So why we still vote based on the promises that somebody makes instead of their character and integrity, I've never figured out.
And if we're honest with each other, if we're honest with ourselves, we've all made promises that we didn't do so well at carrying out. Think about that, even if it was just the unspoken promise of when you bring a child into the world, you know, there's that unspoken promise that you're going to do your best to raise them to be the best they can be. And some of us have done a fairly good job with that. And some of us haven’t. And sometimes it's even not consistent from child to child.
But all of these promises that we make, we have the best intentions, and sometimes we make promises that we really have full intention of carrying out until we find out that the reason we made the promise wasn't maybe what it was expected to be. Debbie and I were watching a PBS special on Amy Tan last night and Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club and several other top novels and books, but she was talking about how her personal life had influenced her writing. And especially her relationship with her mother. And that was always a very contested relationship, to put it mildly, you know, her mother wanted her to be a doctor and a concert pianist in her spare time.
She was never going to do that. And so, they were always this way as Amy was growing up and early adulthood. And it came to a point where Amy's brother called her and said, mom was just taken to the emergency room, and they think she's had a heart attack. And so, Amy quickly tries to make arrangements, you know, says, God, if you get mom through this, I promise I will listen to her more and really listen instead of just, you know, arguing with her. And she finally calls and gets through to her mom and she says, mom, what's up? I understand you are having a heart attack. Oh no, no, no. I know that they got that all wrong. The guy at the market just got me really upset and I got really mad and started having some problems breathing. And they took me to the hospital, and she says, it’s just angina.
And Amy said it's like, okay, just more of the same. And then she says, I heard this little voice saying you promised, you promised. And she says, and from that point on, she did make a commitment to spend time listening to her mother and letting her mother tell her about her life in China and what that was like and all of the rest of the things that she had gone through in life.
And, you know, that's just one thing. So often we've made those promises. We will make promises. When we baptize a child, we make promises when we join a church, we make promises that we're going to live our lives as Christians. And we do that with the best intentions we do really with the best intentions. And then somebody cuts you off in traffic. And your first reaction is not Christian-like. Or the person in front of you in line at the grocery store with 40 items in the express lane, or that waits until they're there to start sorting through their file of coupons to see if they have any. And your reaction is not very Christian-like
But we have a different example of promises in scripture, and it starts with this promise to Abram where God promises Abram, that he is going to make of him a great nation. And Abram says how I don't have any kids? The only male in my household is my slave. And God says, nope, not him.
And Abram doesn't believe him, but God carries through in his faithful. And we have the long history that comes from that.
And then, of course, we come to this time in this season of Lent. And we know that the promise of Jesus was that we would all be in a better way of life if we followed his teachings. And that promise, we often had the same reaction that Abram did when he first got the promise from God. Uh, yeah, we look at the news and it's like, when's this better life gonna start?
Or we tune into the radio and we hear about yet another shooting in Flint or Saginaw or about the drunk driver going down the wrong way on the freeway and hitting somebody. Whatever it is, or the person that stabs two museum employees in New York, because his membership had been revoked over previous incidents.
And we say, when is this better life going to start? And we worry about whether these promises are something that's even going to be upheld.
The gospel is clear. The old Testament is clear that God's promises are sure and carry through.
And the way we know that they are carried through is because we can look around and we can see people that are carrying out what Christ taught that are carrying out what God instructed. Back even as far as Abram and even further, we see people that are living their lives in such a way that the kingdom is visible here on earth.
Even Paul in his letter to the Philippians said, observe those who live according to the example you have. Observe those who live according to the example you have seen.
it's too bad this didn't come up the next Sunday with Mr. Roger's day because there was somebody that was a living example.
observe those who are living examples. We can all look around and we can see people that are doing what God wants them to do, but that presents us with a challenge. Are we living examples? Or are we just one of those people that makes a promise, and we have the best intentions of keeping it until it comes down to where it maybe is a little more demanding or difficult to do so, and then we conveniently forget the promise?
I think we probably can all remember times, I think our memories are all still good enough that we can remember times when maybe as a child, we promised our parents, we cleaned up our room because we knew that if we didn't make that promise, we were in trouble, but did we clean up our room? Or did we just shove everything under the bed or into the closet?
But we make those promises, and what God wants from us is God wants us to be those living examples, not to say what we promise, but to live what we promise. Saying it doesn't matter. If Amy had just said, I promise to listen to mom more and let her tell me about her past. And hadn't carried through on it she wouldn't have written her last two books, both of which ended up being bestsellers, both of which have other people in the Asian American community pointing to them and saying, thank you.
If we don't do what we are promising then they're just empty promises, which I think was the whole point of the song in the musical. Was it promises, promises, promises don't mean anything unless we're living them out and what God wants from each and every one of us is to live out our faith. Not to promise to live it, but to do the living of it.
And that is when we truly will be ready to celebrate Easter. When we're living out the promise. Let us pray.